String lights and twigs aren’t just seasonal decor; they make interesting fireplace features year-round. The sparkle of multiple mini lights and the quirkiness of various twigs turn a rustic fireplace into an enchanting feature. Yesteryear's limited palette of red, gold, green or clear lights now includes pastel pink, neon blue and almost everything in between. Change the design each spring, summer, fall and winter as an enjoyable, stylish way to make a seasonal statement.
1. Spring Into Action
Lighten the visual heaviness of a rustic fireplace, such as one featuring a river-rock backdrop and rough-lumber mantel, to welcome spring. Fill a clear glass vase with loosely piled, season-appropriate pastel blue, pink or white cool-to-the-touch LED string lights; leave the cord’s prong hanging out. Remove leaves and stems from the lower portion of the branches. Wrap these lower bare parts completely with fire-safe electrical tape. Carefully insert the taped ends of pussy willows or fruit-blossom twigs, for example, into the vase. In the dimness of evening, plug in the lights to play off the decorative branches. As with Christmas lights, never leave LED string lights unattended. Solar string lights are a safer alternative; charge them near a window before use.
2. Summer Fun
During the summer months, your family likely won’t gather around a heat-producing fire, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy the idea of a fireplace's crackling flames and glowing logs. Wrap a bundle of twigs with a string of white, orange and red solar lights. If you plan to use LED lights, position the bulbs so they are not in direct contact with the twigs. Place the faux log on a clean log grate. Bright purple, blue or green twinkle lights provide flickering "flames." When you plug in the “log,” your kids can imagine it’s snowing outside -- even if they spent the afternoon running through a sprinkler.
3. Autumn Arts and Crafts
Autumn is a time of rich, warm yellows, gold and reds. Help the kids gather assorted fall-colored, leafy twigs for an art project that doubles as interior decor. Use natural-hemp twine or earthy colored wool to wrap or tie various length twigs together. Form rough or imperfect shapes of your choice, such as stars, "sunbursts" or wreaths, using glue if necessary. Stand the finished pieces on the mantel or hang them above it. Spread charged, white solar lights over the mantel for illumination and as the sparkle of a frosty ground.
4. Winter Wonderland
Cold weather and arts-and-crafts projects go together like little hands and toasty gloves -- or twigs and old frames. Gather bunches of stocky, bare twigs, then glue the twigs vertically upright to the top and bottom backs of old, empty photo or artwork frames. If you like, paint the frames cool blue for a modern nod to the rustic fireplace below, or with Christmas red, green or white for old-fashioned holiday cheer. Intertwine the tree-like art with white solar lights.
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